Gujarat HC grounds Modi’s pet Shanghai-like SIR project

Ahmedabad, Dec 10 (IANS) The Gujarat High Court on Thursday grounded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-publicised Special Investment Region (SIR) project of Dholera, directing the state government against summarily acquiring land in 22 villages falling under the proposed region.

Granting a suspension of land acquisition order, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice V.M. Pancholi issued notice to the Gujarat government to explain why the Gujarat Special Investment Region Act, 2009, should not be held ultra vires to the Constitution.

The next hearing would be held in January.

The state government proposes to develop the Dholera SIR, spread over 920 square km, as one of the key business destinations under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and Smart City, six times the size of Shanghai, by acquiring 50 percent of land from farmers of 22 villages of Ahmedabad district.

It recently decided to hand over 28,503 hectares of land to the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for developing a Smart City in the SIR.

The high court action followed a petition by residents of the 22 villages under four umbrella organisations who prayed to the court to declare the SIR Act as unconstitutional on the ground that the power given to gram panchayats cannot be taken away by a government notification with regard to acquisition and use of land.

Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, advocate Krishnakant Vakhariya requested the court to quash all notifications of the revenue department of the state government with regard to acquisition of land for the proposed SIR.

“With the high court ordering status quo, no development activity with regard to infrastructure of SIR in the entire 920 square km area of Dholera can be carried out till the final disposal of the case,” Vakhariya said.

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